When the story of Trayvon Martin’s killing first made national news, attention quickly turned to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a conservative group with corporate backing that crafts model legislation and recruits members of local governments to propose and pass it. ALEC is the group that crafted Stand Your Ground, the law that allowed Zimmerman to walk free on the night that he shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old Martin, but which he did not ultimately use in his defense. Since the trial started, though, discussion of ALEC has faded from the national conversation. On Sunday, in the wake of the jury finding George Zimmerman not guilty, President of the National Urban League Marc Morial tried to refocus people’s attention back on ALEC, calling for concerned activists to demand that ALEC’s corporate partners denounce the group.
Morial made the call on MSNBC’s Up With Steve Kornacki:
MORIAL: It’s important to recognize a year ago when there was some sunlight on ALEC, many of us called for many of its major supporters to withdraw. I want to renew that call this morning, because the poison of the stand your ground law was from ALEC. They went to the state — I’m a former state legislator — and have watched them operate. There needs to be sunlight on what they’re doing, which what they’re doing is creating model legislation and spread the poison of stand your ground all over the nation. Those who support ALEC should withdraw from ALEC because this kind of thing and the use of stand your ground is why at the very instance the law enforcement there in Sanford, Florida, did not arrest George Zimmerman as they should have, at the very inception.
In the months following the killing of Trayvon Martin, over 46 groups — including Wal Mart, MillerCoors, Best Buy, McDonalds, and Coca-Cola — dropped their ALEC memberships. Non-profit groups including the Gates Foundation also abandoned the group.
But with the lack of “sunlight,” as Morial calls it, the flow of groups leaving ALEC slowed and eventually stopped altogether.
Stand Your Ground isn’t the only legislation ALEC has peddled to state legislators. The group is also responsible for bills that block workers from getting paid sick leave, efforts to stop whistleblowers trying to expose horrific agricultural practices, and many, many bills meant to stop environmental regulations and education about climate change. The latter is likely thanks to the group’s ties to the Koch Brothers, billionaires who made their fortune in the oil industry.